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HISPANIC STANDOUT:  Former Astronaut Frankling Chang Diaz Honored in His Home Country of Costa Rica

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Former Costa Rican-American astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz on Monday received an honorary doctorate from the state-run Universidad de Costa Rica, or UCR, for his contributions to science, technology and education on the global level.

The honorary doctorate was presented by representatives of UCR, the country’s main university, at a ceremony where the scientist expressed his pride at being recognized in this way.

“It’s a great honor. I’m overwhelmed by this recognition and I accept it with humility. It comes from an institution that is a scientific and academic bastion of Costa Rica,” Chang told reporters.

Chang – who was born in Costa Rica in 1950 – last year entered the NASA Hall of Fame for being one of the people who has made the most trips into space, a total of seven between 1986 and 2002, during which he has spent 66 days in orbit.

In 1986, he became the first astronaut of Latin American origin and he retired from NASA in 2005 to devote him activities to his company, Ad Astra Rocket, the laboratories of which in Costa Rica and the United States are developing a revolutionary plasma engine that, it is hoped, will make manned and unmanned space flight faster.

The UCR said that it presented the honorary degree to Chang – who holds a Ph.D. in plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – because “he has made himself into a source of motivation for youth, in the fields of research, innovation and scientific and technological development.”

Chang was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, to a father of Chinese descent and a Costa Rican mother. He became an American citizen in 1997 and holds dual citizenship in both nations.

Published in Latino Daily News

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